Bitcoin leaves no one indifferent. By the time I write this, everyone has already heard about Bitcoin at least once. For better or worse, everyone now has an opinion about Bitcoin.
Some will have understood how it works and the paradigm shift from the current system it advocates. On the other hand, others will stick to the smear campaigns of the powerful of this world, choosing not to go any further by doing their research on Bitcoin.
What is interesting, in my opinion, is that Baby Boomers are often more likely to have a negative opinion of Bitcoin. Generations Y and Z are the most likely to have a positive opinion of Bitcoin.
The generation you belong to therefore has a direct impact on your perception of Bitcoin. In this article, I propose to go back with you on these differences in perception from one generation to another.
Society is divided into 4 generations
Generally speaking, sociologists distinguish the society of the 21st century into four main categories of people:
Baby Boomers, representing those born between 1943 and 1960.
Generation X is composed of those born between 1961 and 1981.
Generation Y, comprising those born between 1982 and 2004.
Generation Z, for people born from 2005 onwards.
Each generation has been marked by events in its own time that have strongly influenced their perception of the world. Thus, Baby Boomers have lived with the rise of capitalism, which has necessarily shaped their vision of the world forever. Generation X was marked by the beginning of technological prowess with the first man on the Moon and the revolution in the world of communications.
Generation Y was that of the rise of the World Wide Web. Finally, Generation Z was marked by major crises: economic crises, the climate crisis, and the war on terrorism. Because of their different worldview and the issues, they consider major, the members of these different generations have developed a different perception of Bitcoin.
Baby Boomers see Bitcoin as dangerous
Baby Boomers grew up in a world shaped by the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. The monetary and financial system then in place allowed the U.S. dollar to rise, while allowing gold to retain a major role.
For a Baby Boomer, gold represents something essential.
Through their hard work, the Baby Boomers helped their countries to regain their leadership after the Second World War. They, therefore, attach great importance to hard work. For them, hard work always deserves to be rewarded in proportion to the effort put in.
Besides, they attach great importance to authority and hierarchy.
They have benefited from the current monetary and financial system because they lived the first part of their lives during a period of strong economic growth called the “The Glorious Thirty”. As a result, many of them have been able to raise a lot of money by taking advantage of this system. Under these conditions, it is not surprising that Baby Boomers consider Bitcoin dangerous and scary.
All they had to do was listen to what politicians, central bankers, and economists had to say about it. These people are the authority, and the Baby Boomers are giving top priority to what these all-powerful people are saying.
Nouriel Roubini, an economist who became famous following his predictions on the 2008 crisis, is a perfect representative of the Baby Boomers. Here is what he says about Bitcoin:
“So Bitcoin isn’t a currency. It is by the way a Ponzi game and a conduit for criminal/illegal activities. And it isn’t safe given hacking of it.”
— Nouriel Roubini
This position may seem extreme, but it is perfectly representative of what most Baby Boomers think about Bitcoin at the moment. However, they would have a lot to gain by taking an interest in it, and understanding how it works.
Generation X has mixed feelings about Bitcoin
Generation X is in a major social transition for the world in which it lived. It experienced the decline of colonial imperialism and the end of the Cold War. Generation X was hit hard by the global economic downturn at the end of the “Glorious Thirty”.
Richard Nixon’s decision in 1971 to end the convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold tipped them into a monetary and financial system that was no longer based on anything tangible.
The members of this Generation X experienced the bottom of the wave at the professional level, with great difficulty in finding stable and well-paying jobs.
Indeed, Generation X is looking for stability. When a person of this generation finds something that works, they will try to stick to it. This makes it extremely difficult for Generation X members to adapt to new and unexpected situations. Those born in the 1960s are closer to the Baby Boomers in their mentality. Born in 1963, Peter Schiff is a perfect example of those Generation X members who are very close to the Baby Boomers in terms of mindset.
Here’s what Peter Schiff says about Bitcoin:
“The only thing I can do with my bitcoin is give it to somebody else.”
— Peter Schiff
Peter Schiff is aware of the existence of Bitcoin, may be interested in it, but he is not ready to evolve to recognize the complete paradigm shift it represents.
Within this generation, however, some have been able to question it. They are a minority, but Peter Thiel is a good example. This highly successful entrepreneur who created PayPal, among other things, has the following position:
“Bitcoin is like a reserve form of money, it’s like gold and it’s just a store of value. You don’t need to use it to make payments.”
— Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel acknowledges the value of Bitcoin by considering it as a valuable reserve in the same way as gold. He does not seem to consider that Bitcoin can be used for payments in a generalized way, however.
All this shows that Generation X has a mixed feeling towards Bitcoin. Some will side with the Baby Boomers, while others will look at Bitcoin in certain aspects without believing it to be a real alternative to the current monetary and financial system.
Generation Y sees Bitcoin as a liberator
Generation Y is the generation of millennials. Those born in the heart of the 80s have largely grown up watching television. They’ve gotten used to questioning everything and trying to understand things. Those born in the heart of the 90s are even called “digital natives” because they grew up in a world where the personal computer and the Internet have become the norm.
For members of Generation Y, authority is not synonymous with competence.
Many find it difficult to thrive in an overly hierarchical system. As such, they challenge all the codes of previous generations that considered what the authorities said as the gospel word. Millennials feel like prisoners of a monetary and financial system that is showing its limits. They seek to understand how money works.
In doing so, they understand that the inflation of the U.S. dollar is constantly devaluing what they own. The system that emerged from the Jamaican agreements in 1976 has continued to increase the inequalities of the world in which they live.
The rich are getting richer and richer, while the poor are not seeing their standard of living rise fast enough. When they discover Bitcoin, millennials feel a deep sense of liberation. They feel that Bitcoin allows them to regain control over what they own. By buying Bitcoin, they earn the right to choose to live their lives on their own terms.
By making it wise to keep what they own for the long term rather than spending it at the drop of a hat, Bitcoin gives them a reason to hope for a better future for all.
Most of the startups involved in the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been created by members of this Generation Y. The Winklevoss twins, who originated the idea behind the creation of Facebook, became Bitcoin billionaires by being among the first to support its revolution.
So, Tyler Winklevoss naturally has high regard for Bitcoin:
“Our basic thesis for bitcoin is that it is better than gold.”
— Tyler Winklevoss
Many members of Generation Y see Bitcoin as an opportunity to offer their children a fairer future. They invest in Bitcoin by becoming Bitcoiners for this essential reason too.
Generation Z will see Bitcoin as normality
The last generation categorized by sociologists for the society of the 21st century, generation Z has not yet arrived on the labor market. Nevertheless, we know that it will have been marked by technology but especially social networks.
Generation Z is permanently connected.
All its members are perfectly mastered in the use of computer tools. For them, using a smartphone to make a payment will be the norm. This generation Z will use Bitcoin without even thinking about it. Bitcoin won’t even seem revolutionary to the majority of Generation Z members. For them, a fully democratic decentralized payment system will be a given. Those who will be curious to find out what the current monetary and financial system was like will be shocked.
They will wonder how previous generations were able to accept the fact that a few people systematically decided to devalue what the majority of people owned.
Generation Z will also redefine work by removing the barriers between personal and professional life. Working at a distance will also be the norm for them. Transferring Bitcoin instantly and cheaply to friends on the other side of the world will also be a natural thing to do.
In short, Generation Z will be the first to benefit fully from Bitcoin without even thinking about it.
Bitcoin is a disruptive technology. Everybody even agrees that Bitcoin is the greatest technological revolution since the emergence of the Internet.
As with any disruptive technological revolution, some generations will not be able to take the step to benefit from it. The most recent generations will prove to be the most suitable, as they are waiting for a total paradigm shift as proposed by Bitcoin.
The Baby Boomers, who would benefit from buying Bitcoin, will mostly not be able to leave a system that has allowed them to amass a great deal of wealth in their lifetime. Even if this system shows its limits and could make them lose everything with the coming economic crisis.
Generation Z will see Bitcoin as a normal thing to do and should boost its adoption like never before. So the sense of history is clearly on the side of Bitcoin for me.
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